tv Your Business MSNBC June 23, 2013 4:30am-5:01am PDT
hi, there, everyone. i'm j.j. ramberg, and welcome to "your business," your number one resource for information and advice to help your small business grow. major events, speeches, and workshops were held around the country as part of the 50th anniversary of small business week. these workshops that included seminars, on-site assistance, and mentoring took places in cities like seattle, dallas, st. louis, and, of course, washington, d.c. karen mills was personally on hand at those events. fran articulate enton who's launch 20d company over the past 30 years and advises small businesses was the key note speaker at the d.c. small business week. thanks so much for joining us today. >> thank you. we've always had you on small business week so it's good to
talk about it. >> administrator, i know you celebrate a lot of small businesses. there's people you high light small businesses. do you see anything that the smalls bys are doing? >> we take the business on road. what small businesses want right now is help on how to grow. you know, the economy is recovering, but small businesses really had a tough time in the last four years, and now they want opportunity. they want opportunity to get more business, being in a supply chain, maybe they want to export. and we find if we're on the ground one on one with mentors right in place, then we can help them get access to capital, maybe they meet a bank. so we've been doing match making right there in each of these cities. and then we've been live streaming all of the information so that people can go on the site even if they're not here in person to get the tips and tools
to grow a business. >> fran, you're a small business entrepreneur yourself but you help small businesses. what are the challenges right now? >> the thing about small businesses, they get misinformation. i think the work karen is doing is a bit kept secret. what the sba and karen is doing is a big job. we need to help these small businesses. they're scattered. one in ten employees are about 90% of all the businesses and these people are scattered, and i am an entrepreneur. i started my first business at 7 years old with a paper route in washington, d.c. and so what we've done, we've partnered with office depot and we put together a small website, smallbizclub.com. it's driven by people who have built businesses, people who have gone down that track. you only learn about how to be a farmer by beingtalking to a far
putting your hands in the soil. there will be no job growth without -- >> i want to follow up on there. there's a lot of resources. i spent a lot of time over the last month going around we're doing a series called "main streets across america." i asked people. they own small, small businesses. they're not particularly focused growth. they're focused survival. i asked them, do you think what the government is doing, federal or local, when they're talking about smalls by and helping smalls by, they're talking to you, and the answer almost to a person was no. >> you know, fran said something that was really important. i've heard it so many times on this trip across the country. you are at the sba the best kept secret in the federal government. well, we want to say right now. the secret is out. i don't want to be a secret anymore. one of the things the president keeps saying to me is make sure everybody knows about the sba. i want to thank fran because
he's right. small businesses out there, they're just doing their work. they're busy running their businesses, and sometimes they don't know that all across this country we have help for them. >> fran, there's been a lot of talk recently about health care and about access to capital and how a lot of business owners are saying those two things, health care, they're confused by. they don't know if their costs are going go up. access to capital, and people are having trouble with this. do you see this as well? >> well, the health care, we provide counsel for that because we get great health care professionals who we work with and pre provide that information over our website. but health care is going to go up by 15 to 20% our experts tell us, but it doesn't have to be that way. it's important that they work with an insurance provider or someone they can talk to. we have those people they can talk to that will help them have a strategy, and the strategy could be something like a higher
deductible and maybe having that cash participation and making employee part of the solution. >> thank you so much for coming with us. congratulations on this week, administrator. fran, thank you for all you do for smaz business. >> my pleasure that and good luck with all of your next ventures. >> thank you, j.j. the world is a big place and when you look to see where the potential for growth where a company is, it may not be here in the united states. i recently spend time at one business, a children's play space, a business that launched here in new york to discover why they decided to expand internationally. on a recent tuesday afternoon at apple seeds, a children's play space in new york city, toddlers were playing soccer, climbing through an indoor playground, and singing songs.
on that same day across the world in dubai, children were doing the same exact thing. and over in mumbai, india, there was another very similar scene. in 2007 two couples, allison and craig and allison and bobby opened up apple seeds in manhattan as an answer to their own problem. the two alisons had met in a baby music class. >> we realized this was the kind of class that was. giving us what we thought we could give for our kids, a place to play after tit was over. clean carpet space. they got their husbands to quit their jobs and opened the kind of destination they wanted for their kids. it was an immediate hit the very first day. >> there were people standing outside to come in. it was super exciting to see that. >> she knew right from the start that the apple seeds founders
were on to something. she grew up in dubai and had started a business bringing american companies there. >> my partner out there came and visited here and she said this place needs to be in dubai. it was just sort of gap in the market when it came to children's place spaces that were unique and well run and well managed. >> around the same time another person approached them about opens in dubai. india? dubai? this was not exactly the way the founders envisioned growing their business so early on. they definitely wanted apple seeds to expand, but they weren't sure how. >> the first decision you make is, okay, let's eat this, but let's open it with a goal to make it bigger. what bigger looked like was up in the air. >> when an opportunity presents itself and you're in the early stage of a business, it's difficult not to dive in and see if there's something there. you know, with the two deals we did do overseas, that's basically what happened.
>> these were deals they did not enter into lightly. it took a long period getting to understand and trust their overseas partners. >> we took a while with our international franchise locations to really get to know those people, get to know the type of people they were, the type of work they wanted to put into it, if they really felt about am seeds the way we felt about apple seeds. >> and despite many discussions over many months, all four partners saying teaming up with people in other countries was still a big leap of faith. >> was it scary? >> yes. >> yes. >> you both say yes at the same time. what was scary about it? >> i mean it's just -- launching into a brand new culture, a brand new market, you know, you can do as much research as you want but you don't know how much is going to play out until you get there. >> the problems that arose were not what they expected. there were small knew aunlss. >> in india, some of the class names weren't resonating with the clients there. we said, okay, come up with a few different classes. >> in general, their curriculum
translated well and their international market did a good job of keeping the brand and getting employees. >> we put a lot bind behind training guides. it's nice to see that that's working. >> i think some of the things we didn't anticipate which is more based on politics, you know, banks and customs. that's where we got held up. >> shipping supplies and certain things we weren't accustomed to doing. it turned out to be a little more problematic than we thought. >> while doing something so far away may seem like a difficult way to start growing, the partners say their international programs are actually a testing ground for the domestic franchise program they're working on building. >> reputational at-risk is lower internationally. it's a little safer. if you mess up a couple of things abroad, your reputation
is not at stake as much as it is in the next city. >> to force us to formalize our offer and practice being a franchiser with our parties overseas. >> they have a three-pronging planned more international owners, and their u.s.-based franchise business program. no matter where they grow, though, they say there's one thing that will guide all their decisions. >> the priority has always been the people that we're working with over the place where they are, the city that they're in. and the maybe reason is this is a customer service business at the end of the day. if you're exploring international options for your small business, one major limitation may be language barriers. this app this week won't make yu a language guru overnight but it will help put your foot in the door. jibbigo works with 20 different
languages. speak in one language and it translates to another. it's available for free when you have internet aunt. if you don't, don't worry. yo view offline translators that can be translated for each individual language. the web gives your app access to the global marketplace but that doesn't mean the world is always able to understand your message. here now are five tips for making your website globally friendly courtesy of matchable.com. >> one, optimize for speed, look at different servers and look at all different internet connectivity options to make sure your site doesn't take long to load no matter where in the world someone's trying to access it. >> two. limit text messages. three, test your site. make sure when your text is written in english and converted
to another lap garage the flow will be supported by your layout. use a machine translation service to get an idea how elements are displayed. four, don't forget color. what a color means and stands for can vary greatly and culture. focus on your target markets and find out what colors or color combinations work in those areas. and five, make your shopping cart internationally friendly. offer international shipping and be sure to offer a way for people to offer payment for their own currency. raises funinging funds is a dealing with the in vester. here what angels do not want to see or feel when they take out their checkbooks. this group has invested more than $53 million in early stage technology companies. he's also co-author of a new
book "what every angel investor wants to see." welcome. >> thank you. thank you. very exciting. >> you've had so many people come pitch you. you know what works and doesn't work. the first thing you told me is my favorite. i see people in elevator pitches do this all the time. don't mistake your investor for a buyer. >> what do you want. >> i'm not buying your product. i'm an investor. i want to know how you run your business. i want to know that you control your business. i want to know you've done irreparable on who i am, what my interests are, what my background is. >> if i have a really cool product my instinct may be to show you hoye good my product is. >> very unfortunate. i don't have time. it's all about fun. we want to enjoy the experience. certainly make yourself likeable and fun or interesting and tell a joke or two if there's time.
understand i'm in it to make money. i want you to make money as a result of that and i'm going to help do you it, but i have different needs. i have to see financials. i've got to know you're going build a team. oh, yes, you do have a good idea burke in tend can you execute on that idea. >> okay. also you talk about don't be loose with the numbers. this surprises me. do many people get to the point of talking to you and they're loose with numbers? >> remarkable. incredible. they don't know how to price their product. they're starting early. they don't even start with a practical scenario. how much are they going to charge? for what reason. subscription, advertising? where is the money coming from. >> someone told me once never go in and say the market is "x" million, "x" billion dollars and i can capture 1% of the market. >> it's always that 1% thing. i've about never seen anybody make the numbers.
it needs the specifics of the numbers. it's about knowing where the numbers come from and having put together some thoughtful model that says that makes sense. >> okay. so this next one surprises me particularly because i come from a family where my mother and brother started a very successful business, i started a business with my brother, my father worked with his father, all successfully, thank you. >> family of entrepreneurs. >> but you say that you would not invest in people who are related or dating or married or -- >> ouch. yeah. i know. that's a sensitive issue to a lot of people. but we find boyfriend and girlfriends are going to break up rngs we know that husbands and wives break up unfortunately 50% of the time. it's a problem. >> okay. so what do you do? i obviously am not going to not work with my brother. take me out of it. but a couple start as company together. they geebt to get funding. >> hey, i've got to be clear with you. i started a company with my
wife. we're great partners. i didn't raise any money so i didn't have to worry about getting it. >> maybe the answer is if you're in that situation make the angel investor feel comfortable about it. >> extremely comfortable. >> okay. >> let them see you at a party together hugging and kissing making sure you ear going to be together for a long time. >> finally this goes counter to a way a lot of people start small business. you will not invest in someone who keeps their day job. >> right. it's about focus, j.j. you know, keeping a day job is what you do before you actually start your business. sounds bad, doesn't it? >> or it's what you do to get you interested, right? >> it's like the old apprenticeship mentality. you're doing something, learning the business, et cetera. but when you jump in the business i want to know you're there 80 hours a week and you're dedicated and you're not going to be influenced by the needs of anything else. that's when you have to be completely focused?
>> can it be you saying i've started this on my own. in order for me to quit my job, i'm going to quit my skrob. >> absolutely. that's fine. there aren't many angel investors that are going to do it. that's the word i love. we have a fund that helps with that. it's more than likely they haven't gotten too far yet. that's the stuff i love. that's a great angel investing to me. that's big risk >> and you've done well at it. brian, thanks so much. you, please stick around because we need you to answer some questions. >> my pleasure. >> coming up, we have a viewer wondering what enis an investor a good fit. and does crime pay? it does when the entrepreneur works with the police department to sell confiscated property. is like hammering.
riding against the wind. uphill. every day. we make money on saddles and tubes. but not on bikes. my margins are thinner than these tires. anything that gives me some breathing room makes a difference. membership helps make the most of your cashflow. i'm nelson gutierrez of strictly bicycles and my money works as hard as i do. this is what membership is. this is what membership does. problem solving combined with opportunity and innovation is the foundation of many small businesses. in this case, the problem was a police department that needed to clear out storage of stolen goods. it took an entrepreneurial mind to come up with a way of turning that into a profitable business. ♪
>> there's something a little bit naughty about buying stolen goods on the internet. it's crazy. i don't know what to tell you, but there's a lot of enthusiasm. >> believe it or not, part of the the police department. they're actually encouraging people to buy stolen stuff. that's because the long beach police department doesn't have the resources to deal with all the property officers recover in the line of duty. everything from jewelry to baseball bats to bicycles. >> if you could think of it, we've probably come across it. >> while the officers saw this stuff as a burden -- >> a lot of times property itself sat on a shelf and collected dust and created clutter. it just -- it bogged down the whole system. >> tom lane saw it as an opportunity. >> i knew police department couldn't give it back, which is the first choice. love to give it back because it takes up space. they try to give it back.
if not, they have to auction it off. the only way to do that was have a local auction, haul it out to the parking lot, hope it didn't rain and have an auction. >> a former long beach police officer, lane knew it was taking up valuable time and resources. lane seized the opportunity to relieve some strain by launching an auction site called propertyroom.com, named after the room where police departments keep the stuff. the company takes items that are cluttering property rooms around the country and auctions them off online. >> it wouldn't have been possible without the internet. we have 1.5 million registered users. we have a bigger marketplace, more consumers, enables the price to go up. >> having control of the inventory is key to property room strategy. the company can limit the number and variety of items on the site at any time. right now thousands of agencies in nearly all 50 states send property to lane's company.
>> it's the same service we offered the three-man department to the 5,000-man police department in new york city. they process them to our facilities, auction them off and send them a check. >> getting cash back is by far the most part of the deal. >> no department we're doing business with has failed to at least double the revenue they used to get from the old way. >> the relationship with property room allows officers to stay focused on the real task at hand. >> it's a substantial amount of time and man power. it's tough to put a number or a dollar amount on that. it does free up officers and detectives where normally we would have to maintain this property. >> lane's clear about what he'll put for sale on the site. nothing illegal, like pornography or drugs, of course. but there are, shall we say, some unique things. >> we had a colonoscopy machine,
why it was stolen, who would buy, it but we auctioned it off and sold it. >> i'm in the l.a. warehouse one day and there's a coffin in the middle of the floor. i'm like, what is this? they said, somebody stole a coffin. it's like, who's being to bid on a coffin. a week later someone wins and picks it up. >> advertising has been a bargain as well, with no traditional ads, property room clients have been the best marketing tool. >> police department thinking of doing business with us, you're going to call the police department next door or 45 minutes aago, they're our best salespeople. >> with a nearly perfect sales record, the company is always exploring new opportunity. but its mission remains the same, property room will always remember how it got its start. >> we take care of our law enforcement clients, they take care of us. we trust our consumers, they keep coming back. >> time now to answer some of your business questions.
brian koehn has returned. here is christine, executive editor of ink.com. great to see you. the first question is about launching your business. launch means you put into place all the elements that allow the full feature of the business to be seen, viewed and understood by your customer. keyword, understood. you launch a business and it does something, but what does it do? how have you translated the value of that business in terms of understanding to the customer? everybody thinks they're going to launch it and they're going to come. but they don't understand how to create understanding in the customers' mind. >> we talk about this all the time that a good idea doesn't necessarily make a good business. is there one thing people should think about in order to make their company a success? >> absolutely. it's not just about getting your
customer to understand your business, it's knowing your customer. it's a prerequisite for starting a business that there have to be people out there willing to pay for your product or service. if you're not finding them right away, if you just have a few, ask them what they want. i just met an entrepreneur named jack, who had $1,000 built into a billion dollar business. he said the key to success was talking to customers and building exactly what they wanted. >> you hear that over and over. >> how do i know that i have -- that i'm a good fit and that we can do business together besides just coming in a room and talking? is it a one-time visit or do i really get to know who i'm doing business with? >> i have to start with you, obviously, since you're an investor, brian. you're entering into a marriage. >> that's right.
it's a big hugging relationship. you should be in control of it. you walk in the door and say, i want to get to know you. you have to ask questions about them, their background and frankly what it is that excites them about being an investor in the business you're building. once you develop that relationship, have breakfast with them, lunch, dinner, but get to know them. be proceed active. >> a lot of people feel they're in the position to take money. but if you are feeling a bit, let's say, desperate, how can you kind of step back and realize, i may not want their mean? >> i've heard it called a marriage, a partnership but it really has to be. in this tough lending environment there are so many different places to get funding. you can go to sba, your bank. step back and look for different opportunities. >> and take yourself a few years down the line when you're with
this person and you're successful or not successful, what's the relationship going to look look, is this someone you want to be in bed with. >> you want smart money. someone to add more than just dollars. >> unless you can't get dollars anywhere else. let's go to the last question. this is about where to base your business. >> i started my business from home and then in a collaborative working space. to me it seemed like a great middle step. >> i think having that business address is a great, great step. because it gives you that professionalism. it gives you that touch. but there are co-working spaces in almost every major city now. i've seen small businesses start in places like we work or new work city or general assembly here in new york who have found
partnerships from other startups in that space, found an attorney, a programmer. that collaboration can really add an extra something special. >> is there any stigma attached to being in a co-working space. >> no, i live amongst the entrepreneurers where ideas are flourishing over a beer in the afternoon, after noon, so we can think a little more. it's a wonderful feeling to know that when you start your company, and that's really where the time it's best, that you can get all of that support from everybody around you. now when you further the company, you can grow. >> or it depend on you. >> you get past five people or so, you really want your own place. >> and it also provides so many things, conference rooms, fax machines. >> shared services. >> you guys, thank you so much for all of your advice. great to see both of you today. if any of you want to learn more about today's show, all you have
to do is click on our website. openforum.com/yourbusiness. you'll find more information to help your business grow. you can follow us on twitter @msnbcyourbiz. next week we spend time talking to the small business owners in historic galina, illinois, from the economy to customer service, wul examine the unique issues facing small business owners in a new segment called main street usa. till then, i'm j.j. ramberg. remember, we make your business our business. ♪ i'm a hard, hard worker every day. ♪ ♪ i'm a hard, hard worker and i'm working every day. ♪ ♪ i'm a hard, hard worker and i'm saving all my pay. ♪ small businesses get up earlier and stay later.
and to help all that hard work pay off, membership brings out millions of us on small business saturday and every day to make shopping small huge. this is what membership is. this is what membership does. a breakthrough in senate puts john boehner in the hot seat. we like to say members of congress who devote their consciences but if you want real immigration reform to pass congress this year, that's a cliche you might want to abandon. there are still a ton of obstacles between where we stand now and a signing ceremony at the white house but the path cleared in a big way this week, leafing one basic question looming above the rest. what do repubca